Gaza-Egypt border (Archive)
Photo: AFP
Clashes on Gaza border (Archive)
Photo: AP

1 dead, dozens wounded in Palestinian-Egyptian clash on Gaza border

Clashes break out on tumultuous border area; Egyptians employ tear gas to quell situation which is followed by gunshots from unknown source

Gunfire erupted at the Gaza-Egypt border on Monday, following stone-throwing clashes between Egyptian border guards and Palestinians, witnesses said, and one Palestinian was killed.


It was the most serious outbreak of violence on the border since Hamas militants blew down the border wall on Jan. 23. Egyptian forces reclosed the border on Sunday.


One Palestinian was killed and several dozen people were hurt, including eight who suffered gunshot wounds.


Egyptian forces fired live bullets at the crowd, wounding several, witnesses said. Bullets landed close to an AP staffer on the Gaza side of the border. Later, Palestinian gunmen fired back. It was not immediately clear if the gunmen were from Hamas. Police from Hamas were next to the border at the time.


The tensions began when the Egyptian guards sealed the border hermetically Monday, not even allowing Egyptians and Gazans who had found themselves on the wrong side of the border to return home. Eyewitnesses said anger boiled over in the late afternoon as people on both sides waited for permission to cross over.


Hamas policemen in the area encouraged people in the area to throw rocks at the Egyptians. Youths began pelting an Egyptian command post in the area, and forces there first threw stones back, and then fired tear gas. Medics said 26 people were treated for tear gas inhalation.


After the clash, four vehicles with Hamas police drove in to break up the crowd, using sticks to push people away from the border.


Monday's firefight erupted around dusk, and occasional gunshots could still be heard after nightfall.


About the same time, hundreds of Hamas supporters protested against the renewed closure of the border in a Gaza City rally. "Hamas says today it will not submit to the continuation of the siege, and neither will the Palestinian people," Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas leader, told the crowd.


In a challenge to Egypt, Abu Zuhri appealed to Arab public opinion. "We call on Arabs and Muslims ... To urge their people to rise up and continue supporting the Palestinians until this siege is broken," he said.


Monday's cross-border violence and the tough words suggested that Hamas has given up hopes of reaching a deal with Egypt, under which the border would reopen with Hamas helping to run it. The international community and Hamas' main rival, moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, reject Hamas involvement at the border, and it appeared unlikely Egypt would strike a separate deal with Hamas.


The Egyptian troops closed the border on Sunday, using metal spikes and barbed wire, ending a 12-day breach that had allowed hundreds of thousands of Gazans to visit Egyptian border towns.


פרסום ראשון: 02.04.08, 18:38
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